Tuesday, August 23, 2016

End of a long summer

After three whole months of summer break, Bilal will be finally heading back to school tomorrow. Yesterday we ent to Paine to drop off some school supplies and to meet his teacher, Mrs. McL.

Trussville is going from one elementary school to three! Work has continued throughout the summer, but everything is still not quite complete. There is still some construction going on, and I'm sure transition will be a bit of a challenge. But we are READY! Yes, time to get back into a routine.

This evening, we decided to celebrate the last day of summer vacation with a trip to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. Ice cream makes everything just that much better! And it was a chance for Nana and Nani to sample some new flavors too.

Looking forward for a great start to the new school year!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

When plans change....

.... we make it fun!

Bilal was looking forward to having a pre-birthday sleepover with his cousins. For certain unavoidable reasons, it didn't materialize. He was obviously very disappointed; he'd been waiting for them all day and was so excited! So what did we do? Mama and baby decided to have a sleepover instead. And Baba was generous enough to give up his space in our bed and sleep in Bilal's room instead.

We started off with an intense game of Phase 10, between Safa, Bilal, and myself.

We didn't get through the entire game; ten phases take far too look when it's already a couple of hours past bedtime, but as has been happening quite often recently, I was decimated by the two genius players.

After the game, Bilal and I settled down for some snuggles, (and selfies), before calling it a night.

Somewhere in the middle of the night, I awoke to Bilal sleeping with his head firmly planted on my belly. Not very comfortable, but sort of cute, until I finally had to roll away to find a more comfortable position.

This morning though, this view really warmed my heart:

My little guy lying next to me, snuggled up with blankie and his favorite elephant, Fuzzy. Hard to believe that he will be turning 10 in just one more day!

We had a fun night, and made some great memories in the process!

Friday, July 8, 2016

There is still hope

I love my daughter's style of writing. Although she doesn't often publicly share what she writes, some of her pieces will really strike a chord. This is one such piece, about growing up Muslim in America. It's simple and brief, but heartfelt, and certainly worth a read.

There is too much hate in the world, there is too much prejudice and discrimination, based on religion, gender and sexual orientation, and skin color. We all know someone personally, who has experienced profiling, and often times it is us who are the ones being profiled.

It is, however the younger generation that gives us much hope. I hope and pray that their voices are never silenced. Because honestly, without hope for the future, what do we have?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Eid al Fitr 2016

We celebrated the end of Ramadan with a large gathering at the Civic Center, where Eid prayers were performed. Ramadan was a good month, full of prayers and blessings. Safa and Hamza have been completing their fasts with us for years, but this year, Bilal was also able to complete 2 full fasts, along with several half fasts, where he'd get up early morning with us for breakfast, but eat a few hours before sunset, instead of fasting until sunset. He started doing that sporadically last year, in preparation for when he is required to fast. He was 9 this year, so fasting is still not obligatory for him.

After prayers, we came home, and the boys spent a few hours assembling the Lego models, which were part of Bilal's Eid gifts.

It looks like Hamza was doing most of the building!

In the evening we met with a group of friends for dinner, at a local Indian restaurant. For the last few years, Ramadan and Eid have been falling over the kids' summer break, which is based on the lunar calendar. Makes for long days of fasting, but little more of any other activities required. Next year, they will fall 10 days earlier, and so on, since the average lunar year is 354 days, instead of 365.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Strongest shoulders

Happy Father's Day to my hubby and wonderful dad of our kiddos. Also to the other dads who have made such a positive impact in our lives.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

And after graduation...

... party time!

We hosted Hamza's graduation party at home on May 27th. A slightly smaller event than we had hosted when Safa graduated 2 years ago, but we were able to accommodate all of our great friends who joined us for the celebration.

The delicious food (not tacos), was delivered and kept warm in this cool food truck, that stayed parked in our driveway for a couple of hours:

Our caterers are actually brothers, who between them, run an amazing Asian fusion restaurant called Shiki, and drive a taco truck around town.

As with many predominantly Pakistani gatherings (except smaller ones), our guest tend to self segregate into genders. But hey, if that works for our guests, it's fine for us!

Some of the lovely ladies:

The gentlemen:

And the real guests, the kids!

I enjoyed the sweetest interaction between these two little ones. It looked as if they were having quite the conversation.

Maybe they'll be best friends when they get a little older!

The Thai food was delicious; our awesome caterers did an awesome job.

But, as always, the dessert table, for me, was one of the highlights of the meal. Oh why, oh why do I love sweets so much?

With another end of school event behind us, we start looking forward to Camp War Eagle, Hamza's college orientation camp for Auburn University.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Graduation time!

Five years of a rigorous math and science curriculum at the Alabama School of Fine Arts ends in this! High school graduation at the beautiful and historic Alabama Theater, located just a few blocks from Hamza's high school, in Downtown Birmingham. Friday, May 20th was the big day. Getting ready to head out, in his graduation cap and gown:

In front of the theater:

Once inside, the graduates went to prepare for their walk on to the stage, while we waited to be seated.

Inside the theater the ASFA orchestra performed, as we waited for the seniors to file in.

The seniors stood on stage amidst applause from friends and family:

As you can see, there is no uniformity among what is worn to graduation at ASFA. The front row was represented by a rainbow of colors. Caps and gowns are actually not even required, although many students, like Hamza, chose the traditional black. That is quite the representation of a fine arts school, for sure.

Prior to distribution of the diplomas, the choir performed for the audience.

After the keynote address, by an ASFA alum, the ED presented the diplomas

Such a proud, and emotional moment to see Hamza come to the front to receive his diploma.

After the ceremony was complete and the students filed out, the street in front of the theater was blocked off by the police, so that everyone could regroup and take pictures.

Here is Hamza with one of his favorite math teachers. She had many complimentary things to say about how he has matured during the five years at ASFA. Mrs. L is probably one of the most beloved teachers at the school.

And with Mrs. C, the head of the Math and Science department:

And the outside of the Alabama Theater by night, as the crowds started to thin:

We followed the program with a delicious dinner at the nearby Fish Market Restaurant. A great end to a wonderful evening!

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